Wayne State alumna puts in miles for MS awareness

Omaha has a healthy and thriving running scene, and most of those runners have a reason for doing what they do. But Deanna Tysdal, who attended Wayne State College from 1995-1999, has more reason than most.

Tysdal was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 13 years ago, in October of 2005. It wasn’t until 2015 that she discovered MS Run the US, a nonprofit that raises awareness and money for MS research by running a cross-country relay each spring and summer. In 2019, she’ll become a part of that relay for the second time, running over 130 miles in a week.

Tysdal has felt the impacts of MS for much longer than the 13 years since her own diagnosis.

“My brother was diagnosed in 1991 and is the worst-case scenario,” Tysdal said. Her brother’s MS is so advanced he uses a wheelchair and requires constant care. “When I got diagnosed, I refused to accept that as my fate.”

“In 2015, I was asked to be on a local morning show with a fellow runner in the relay as a 'runner with MS,'” Tysdal said. “I participated in some fundraising events and became friends with local relay runners. I ran a few miles in Utah with a friend the next year and then became a relay runner in 2017.”

That year, Tysdal ran the sixth segment of the relay, traversing 166 miles from Vernal, Utah to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She raised over $26,000.

“The scenery was beautiful and the support I received brought me to tears,” she said.

Donations raised by runners go toward accessibility projects for people living with MS, such as wheelchairs and ramps to make their homes easier to get around. Funds also go to the MS Society to support research efforts.

Tysdal has found that running often proves more effective in managing her symptoms than medication does. She runs most days and will start training for her 2019 MS Run the US segment immediately: a 140-mile stretch from Milford to Nephi, Utah.

She also uses the relay—and all that running and MS have taught her—as an example for her seven-year-old son, Luke, and five-year-old daughter, Piper.

Both of them are already runners, as well as swimmers.

“I’m trying to show my kids that no matter what life gives you, you don’t give up,” Tysdal said. “Showing my kids how to fight and not give up, along with trying to inspire those with MS, has been a huge part of my 'why.' I can’t justify giving in to this disease, and having a positive, determined mindset has proven more powerful than any medication.”

Tysdal’s fundraising project, and more information about the MS Run the US relay, which will begin in April 2019, can be found at www.dkmsrun.org. 

The Wayne Herald

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